Sprucing Up the Side Yard

Here at our offices on Somerset Street in south Providence, we have our own small community garden next to the building which is shared by Community Land Trust staff and neighborhood residents. Recently, the garden has been undergoing a lot of improvements. Over the past few weeks, students from the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center here in Providence have been doing some light construction work and garden maintenance for us! They’ve been building a handicap-accessible bed under the supervision of Kurt Van Dexter, a local artist, teacher, and landscape architect who is a member of the Urban Agriculture Task Force and teaches part-time at the Met School. Meanwhile, our friends at Casa Buena Builders, Inc. have been laying down concrete for a sidewalk that will enable people to navigate wheelchairs to the plot and our building.

Check out these photos of Kurt’s students cutting back bushes and dismantling an old garden bed to install the new, higher one in its place:

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The new bed is the latest in a series of community projects undertaken by the Met students as part of the school’s unique landscape and garden design internship program; last year, for example, they installed a rain garden at Riverside Mills Park. The program combines in-classroom training on subjects like drawing to scale with hands-on field work. The students gain practical skills—how to work with wood, responsibly use power tools, and plan out a garden—and have a chance to apply what they’ve learned to real-world situations. We are so proud to have had these students involved in our garden and appreciate very much Kurt’s leadership on this project.

The students aren’t doing all the work! Last month, our staff engaged in a side yard clean-up in honor of Earth Day, where we got the garden back into shape for another great growing season. Since then, we’ve planted lots of seeds and City Farm plant starts. We can almost taste the tomatoes.

Outreach Director Jessica Knapp, left, and Director of Operations Liana Cassar, right, collect old tomato cages.

Director of Development Susan Sakash turns over soil in the communal plot.

Community Growers Network Director Liza Sutton rakes up fallen leaves around the beds.

Jessica bags leaves for yard waste collection (to be made into more municipal compost!).

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